When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1992  it had a profound effect on American society. Access to places of public accommodation like possibly your business needed to be for everyone, not just the able bodied and to meet ADA compliance was something that every business needed to do. To be in compliance you may have needed to install an access ramp or place braille signage. It was a big deal then but looking back it was something that was not only necessary but also good for society. 

A Law In 1992 Could Not Envision The Internet Of 2019

At the time that George H.W. Bush signed the bill into law the Internet was not in the public’s consciousness. Using a computer was something that was only done on Star Trek and not by the average person so obviously legislators could not envision not only the Internet but also what it would become. Today the Internet defines how we do business and provides an avenue for how business gets done. Did you know that the ADA applies to your website as well?

It does. Even though the ADA never mentions anything about websites your business is a place of public accommodation and therefore needs to be accessible to everyone according to Title III. If your website is not accessible you might be in for a rude surprise.

Lawsuits Are Being Filed

In the past few years, several lawsuits have been filed regarding website accessibility. This has resulted in thousands or millions of dollars lost in settlements (and attorney fees) to settle these lawsuits as well as money spent to make sure the website is ADA compliant. Save yourself the frustration and hassle and just make sure that your website is ADA compliant.

What Do You Need To Do?

So, what needs to be done to make your website ADA compliant? It seems pretty simple on the surface and in a way much of it is. This is outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines which are used by the courts and the Department of Justice during litigation of these issues. There are 38 criteria that must be met and it can be intimidating.

If your website has met all 38 criteria you can close this now but chances are your site has not. The good news is that clearing the bigger items will make your life easier. So, what are they? Here are the most important items.

The Big Ticket Items

Your website’s presentation must include certain items. Descriptive text that can be used by screen readers must be present. Any webform needs to be clear and easy to understand. Colors on the site should not convey meanings. Any labels need to be placed uniformly around the website and in the same place on each page. Last, your code should be clean.

On the website the user should be able to change the size of the text and the color contrast ratio. Links need to be easy to distinguish. The layout of the site needs to be consistent throughout and the navigation needs to be easy. When it comes to your content refrain from using images of text. All images on the site should have alt text and any video should have a text transcript and subtitles via closed captioning. 

When a user is on your site there should be no automatic pop-ups or audio or video that comes up. Basically there should be no unexpected changes that are on your site. The user should have the ability to pause any content and be able to refresh it easily. Any time limits on the site should be raised to accomodate disabled users. To use your site the user should be able to use their keyboard to navigate. Your website should have a search function and a sitemap should be available. The language of the site should also be able to be changed.

The Most Common Failure Is…

The most commonly cited reason for failure to comply with the ADA is the use of alt text with images. In a way this is the easiest thing to fix as all it requires is typing in a small amount of descriptive text for each image of your website. Of course that may seem easy but if your website has thousands of images this can be a daunting task but one that needs to be done and this act alone could save your business thousands of dollars.

Failure To Comply Could Cost You Money In More Ways Than One

Think about this though: Commerce is now commonly done through the Internet. It is possible for a person to not need to leave their home for anything. Anything can be delivered from meals to groceries to well, anything on Amazon. This is perfect for someone who has a disability. These people want to participate in the economy too. You would not intentionally make it more difficult for your customers to come to your business or do business with you, so why would you do this with your webpage? You could be costing yourself business by doing so. Considering about 12.6% of  Americans have a disability that is more than possible.  

The time to get out in front of this has passed. If your website is not ADA compliant you are on borrowed time before a lawsuit is filed. Nicely Done Sites can help. We can help determine where your site fails to meet ADA compliance and we can help work to fix any issues. Obviously by having an ADA compliant website you will not have to worry about a lawsuit but if you are working to fix it it can render any lawsuit moot and save you a lot of money, time and frustration as well. 

If you are not getting on this, you need to and do it now. If your website is already ADA compliant then you can sit back and breathe easier. Your work is done until you need to post your next batch of content.

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